A matter of tribes.

April 21st, 2014, 12pm

It was 7°C with few clouds. The breeze was light.

I’ve been out and about a lot lately. At events, at gatherings, at workshops. I’ve been inside and outside my tribes.

The tribes I’m talking about are the tribes that Malcolm Gladwell talks about. Those 20-150 people that you’d say “hi” to if you met them on the street. Those 20-150 people that share the same language, that similar taste in clothing, that way of understanding where all you need to do is to look at each other with the glint of “yes” in each other’s eyes.

The weekend before last I showed my piece-in-progress, ossa ora, at a dance studio in Regina (a still from my performance is above). I’m not really a dancer, but there I was, singing and moving in front of my photos and animated text. In the audience were some dancers I knew. In the audience were some poets I knew. In the audience was my friend T who I had spent the previous evening with talking deeply as only close members of tribes can do about voice, about performance, about presence. The Q&A session after involved questions from all these tribes: Was the movement choreographed or intuitive? What were the moments of clarity and disquiet in the text? How did the voice and the movement integrate? How did the images and the text and my presence on stage fit together? All these questions made me feel understood, made me feel like I belonged.

Last Wednesday I went to a poetry reading. I had met the poet-in-question in Regina at my showing and he was in Saskatoon for a few days sharing his work. He’s from Scotland and here on a Commonwealth exchange with a local poet. When I met him in Regina there was that glimmer of understanding in his eyes. He is part of my tribe. When I saw him read in Saskatoon I was surprised and enamoured by the metaphysical way he wrote about fishing. L (the poet he’s on exchange with) took pictures of the poet-in-question with all the local poets in attendance at the reading. Including some of the poets who are not in my tribe. We differ in style. We differ in what we consider poetry. We differ.

The poet-in-question and I spoke afterwards and realized his son and I were at Dartington College (another small tribe) in the same year. Another poet from Vancouver was at the reading and I spoke with him briefly. Later that night I saw photos on him on Facebook and realized that we had known each other’s names but not each other’s faces. Next time we’ll know. My poet friend K was there and invited me to stay with her next time I’m in Regina. Small small poet tribe.

This past weekend I was at a yoga workshop. The studio was in a space where I had once taught yoga but it was no longer the same studio. My singer friend G had organized the workshop. My dancer/yogi friend P was of course in attendance, as was my visual artist friend M. My voice-teaching friend T who I had not seen for two years but who I had stayed with in Regina the previous weekend was there. Bodies bent and twisted. Bodies released. Ideas about the body twisted and released as well. I was again in the midst of my tribe.

On Saturday we had Easter dinner with my father’s family. The difference between tribe and family was palpable. Stilted conversation. Obligation. Vague questions about the yoga workshop because my uncle’s office is next door to the studio. No questions about my work as usual. Because I am different. I am family but I am not of the medical or psychology tribe. Playing with my nieces because they know that Auntie Lia hasn’t forgotten how to play or how to sit on the floor. Auntie Lia is in the imagination tribe.

Philippe, Etaoin, Dani, Sanna and 6 others said thanks.

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Lia Pas

inter-disciplinary creator/performer

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